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"99 Problems"
Single by Jay-Z
from the album The Black Album
Released April 27, 2004
Format 12" single
Recorded 2003 at
The Mansion
Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, California, USA
Akademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research
Los Angeles, California, USA
Genre Hip hop, rap rock
Length 3:54
Label Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
Writer(s) Jay-Z
Norman Landsberg
Felix Pappalardi
Billy Squier
John Ventura
Leslie Weinstein
Producer Rick Rubin
Jay-Z singles chronology
"Dirt off Your Shoulder"
"99 Problems"
"Big Chips"

"99 Problems" is the third single released by American rapper Jay-Z in 2004 from The Black Album. It reached number thirty on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The track was produced by Rick Rubin, his first hip hop production in many years. Rubin provided Jay-Z with a guitar riff and stripped-down beat that were once his trademarks. To construct the beat, Rubin used samples of "The Big Beat" by Billy Squier, and "Long Red" by Mountain. Although it remains uncredited, "99 Problems" also contains samples of "Get Me Back on Time, Engine No. 9" by Wilson Pickett.[citation needed]

The title and chorus are taken from Ice-T's "99 Problems" from his 1993 album Home Invasion. The song featured Brother Marquis of 2 Live Crew. Portions of Ice-T's original lyrics were similarly quoted in a song by fellow rapper Trick Daddy on a track unsurprisingly titled "99 Problems" from his 2001 album Thugs Are Us. Jay-Z begins his third verse directly quoting lines from Bun B's opening verse off Touched, from the UGK album Ridin' Dirty

On July 6, 2008, more than four years after the song's initial release, "99 Problems" entered the UK Singles Chart at #35 (after reaching #12 on initial release). This was attributed to Jay-Z's appearance at Glastonbury and the O2 Wireless Festival, two popular British summer music festivals.

On January 21, 2009, Jay-Z performed the song as part of his set at the Staff Ball, the last official event of Barack Obama's inauguration. The ball was exclusively for 4,000 staffers who had worked on Obama's campaign. Jay-Z tweaked the lyrics to suit the historic atmosphere, and the crowd sang along: "I Got 99 problems but a Bush ain't one", replacing "bitch" with the name of the former President.[1]

The song was listed at #14 on Pitchfork Media's top 500 songs of the 2000s.

The song came in at #2 on Rolling Stone's top 100 songs of the '00s.


Music video

The music video premiered in April 2004 and was directed by Mark Romanek. It received praises from critics such as Armond White[2], and was nominated for four MVPA awards in 2005, of which it won three. It also won the MTV Video Music Awards for Best Rap Video, Best Director, Best Editing[3] and Best Cinematography, as well as gaining nominations for Video of the Year and Best Male Video. It was criticized, however, by the Humane Society of the United States for what the organization alleged was glorification of dog fighting.

The video is shot entirely in black-and-white. It consists mainly of scenes filmed in Brooklyn, New York showing life in the city in an elegant and celebratory fashion. The scenes include:

  • Jay-Z and Rubin in a car being stopped by the police (lyrical reenactment).
  • Jay-Z in the Marcy Houses housing project where he grew up.
  • Breakdancers and a group doing a rhythm choreography.
  • Jay-Z performing in a small club.
  • Jay-Z on the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • A woman putting on makeup.
  • Inmates of a prison in the Bronx.
  • Rick Rubin walking with Vincent Gallo.
  • A funeral director making preparations.
  • A rabbi praying.
  • Members of Alpha Phi Alpha performing a complex Stepping routine.
  • A man with a briefcase and cell phone ("The Man?" The D.A.?) reacting to news.
  • An African-American motorcycle club performing street stunts.
  • Jay-Z being shot with multiple bullets by unseen assailants. This final scene was very controversial as music video networks normally remove any scenes with violent content. On MTV, every airing of the video featured an introduction by John Norris explaining why the network felt it was proper to air the video unedited. The introduction also featured Jay-Z explaining why he felt the scene was important to the video. Jay-Z also made a special introduction for BET. Jay-Z explained that the depiction of a shooting is analogous to the "death" of Jay-Z, and the "rebirth" of Shawn Carter.[4]

Track listings

"99 Problems/Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Pt. 1'" single cover
"99 Problems/Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Pt. 2'" single cover
"99 Problems" promo cover

99 Problems/My 1st Song


  1. 99 Problems (Clean)
  2. 99 Problems (Main)
  3. 99 Problems (Instrumental)


  1. My 1st Song (Clean)
  2. My 1st Song (Main)
  3. My 1st Song (Instrumental)

99 Problems/Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Pt. 1

  1. 99 Problems (Explicit)
  2. Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Explicit)

99 Problems/Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Pt. 2

  1. 99 Problems (Explicit)
  2. Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Explicit)
  3. 99 Problems (Video)
  4. Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Video)

99 Problems/Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Vinyl


  1. 99 Problems (Explicit)
  2. 99 Problems (Clean)


  1. Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Explicit)
  2. Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Clean)


  • British producer Mark Ronson released a remix featuring sister, Samantha Ronson.
  • Rapper T.I. used the song's beat to diss fellow southern rapper Lil' Flip. The diss track was called "99 Problemz (Lil' Flip Ain't One)".
  • Hardcore techno artists, Paco Rincon vs. The Guardian & Supreme Entity, created a song called "99 Problems", which relies heavily on the vocals, but has an entirely different instrumental accompaniment. [1]
  • Rapper Skillz used the instrumental of this song to diss Shaquille O'Neal. The song was called "99 Free Throws."

In popular culture

Critical response

This song was number two on Rolling Stone's 2009 list of the 50 Best Songs of the Decade.[7]


  1. ^ YouTube - Jay-Z - 99 Problems But a Bush Ain't One @ Obama Staff Ball
  2. ^ YouTube - (Part 14) Armond White on Jay-Z "99 Problems" - Mark Romanek
  3. ^ Editor: Robert Duffy, Spot Welders
  4. ^ Mark on "99 Problems"
  5. ^
  6. ^ Note that the vertical scale is logarithmic.
  7. ^ Hermes, Will; Hoard, Christian; Rosen, Jody; Sheffield, Rob (December 24, 2009), "50 Best Songs of the Decade". Rolling Stone. (1094/1095):59-62

External links


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